Kabbalah 1

February 2015

“The fundamental task of theosophical Kabbalah is to explain the structure of the universe, especially how the universe can exist at all if God is truly infinite. Think about it: if God is infinite, then why are there computers, desks, people, trees, and sky? Why does the world appear to be a place of separate objects, thrown together by chance, and hardly “filled with Divine light”? If everything is God, why does it look like this?
Now, as we’ve already seen, Kabbalists have a very different, and often surprising, idea of “God” from what we normally do. In fact, the concept of “God” (Elohim) is a concept that evolves, over time, from the Infinite — what we think of as “God” is only one face of the ein sof, the Infinite. So, as you read through this introduction to theosophical Kabbalah, you may find yourself thinking “This is not the God I learned about in Sunday school” or “This is not the God I hear people talking about on television.” Good — that is a sign that you’re getting it.”


“For Cordovero… The universe is inconceivably vast, and every subatomic particle of it is filled with God. Here’s Cordovero developing that point further:
The essence of God is in every thing, and nothing exists outside of God. Because God causes everything to be, it is impossible that any created thing exists except through Him. God is the existence, the life, and the reality of every existing thing. The central point is that you should never make a division within God . . . If you say to yourself, “The Ein Sof expands until a certain point, and from there on is outside of It,” God forbid, you are making a division. Rather you must say that God is found in every existing thing. One cannot say, “This is a rock and not God,” God forbid. Rather, all existence is God, and the rock is a thing filled with God . . . God is found in everything, and there is nothing besides God.
“To be sure, this is a God very different from the ordinary one — a “God beyond God,” as it were, neither a paternalistic judge nor a partisan warrior, but Ein Sof, Beingand Nothingness, without end or limit, and thus filling every molecule of this page and every synapse in the brain. God is who is reading these words and writing them, who is thinking and what is thought. This is the world without an observer, with no inside and no outside, in which That (what seems to be without) and You (what seems to be within) are the same. And with this radically different conception of God come very different expressions of Judaism: elite, often hidden traditions quite unlike the mass religion of rituals, myths, and dogmas.
This God is less a God that does or doesn’t exist, but existence itself. To paraphrase from a non-Kabbalistic source, the yoga sutras of Patanjali, God does not exist — God is existence itself. Moreover, from God’s point of view, all of the distinctions we make — between ourselves and the world outside ourselves, among objects in the world, etc. — are completely illusory, because ultimately there is only the undifferentiated unity of the Ein Sof, the Infinite.”
“In theosophical Kabbalah, As one learns these symbols, one deepens one’s vocabulary of experience, and becomes more and more attuned to the minute fluctuations of it. What today might be called “energetic shifts” are, in Kabbalistic parlance, minute transformations in the structure of experience itself. Even the most ordinary of moments gives birth to endless networks of associations, levels of understanding, and hidden structures. If you really immerse yourself in theosophical Kabbalah, learning the Zohar, coming to know its symbols, you will discover for yourself that the chains of associations begin to flow very easily. You can “jam” with the Zohar the way a jazz musician jams on a motif in a composition. You can feel the interplay of energies (and I use this term very loosely) in your lived experience. And you gradually begin to open up, deepen, and receive.”
“Just from this short description, you can see how different the methods of prophetic Kabbalah are from those of theosophical Kabbalah. Prophetic, or ecstatic, practice does not fine-tune the senses to the minute fluctuations of the sefirot; it shakes up the mind until it can see reality directly. Now, prophetic Kabbalah does still work with the language and topics of Kabbalah — sefirot, letters of the alphabet, Divine names, and so on. However, it uses those resources to engender a mystical experience.”

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